The enormous cost to American cities of the Occupy Wall Street “occupations” is now starting to become clear. As of the end of the first two months of the nationwide occupy events, the movement that claims to represent 99% of us cost state taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press. By all accounts, that number will continue to rise.
In October the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a joint resolution to officially “support” the Occupy L.A. demonstration and “demand accountability and results from the banks we invest taxpayer dollars in.” By December, taxpayers learned they will be “investing” in something else: Occupy LA cost Los Angeles taxpayers, many of them the 99 percenters, at least $2.3 million. LA Mayor Villaraigosa says he will deal with the stunning costs, not by suing those responsible for the damages but by implementing budget cuts that will of course hurt the 99 percenters.
Cities such as Oakland, which spent $2.5 million in the aftermath of occupiers vandalizing public property, shutting down a critical port, trespassing, and committing countless other street crimes, have paid a dear price because of their “reactive approach” to the occupation.
The national cookie cutter approach to OWS was to be as politically correct as possible. City leaders collectively engaged in a hand-wringing mantra of “It’s their right of free speech… we must not interfere!” Add the fact that with “Big Banking” as the OWS target, city leaders had nothing to lose by throwing their support behind the benevolent freedom fighters. Trouble is, they actually had a lot to lose.
A crime blotter documenting the OWS crime wave is staggering: Rapes and other sex crimes, robberies, drug and alcohol offenses, anti-semitic hate crimes, assaults on cops, and the list goes on. City and state officials can no longer afford to deal with such a scourge by shrugging their shoulders, getting out their checkbooks and telling taxpayers “sorry, but we must protect free speech.”
It’s time for prosecutors to step in and take preemptive action against the OWS urban street gangs. In Los Angeles today, there are 37 gang injunctions covering 57 street gangs and 11,000 gang members. For the past five years, Riverside County, CA prosecutors have put in place numerous injunctions against violent gangs that prohibit gang members from congregating, communicating and “occupying” areas where other known gang members are present. The injunctions have resulted in significant numbers of arrests and an overall reduction in gang-related crime. The injunctions have also passed constitutional muster with Courts of Appeal.
But is OWS a criminal street gang for purposes of an injunction? Legally, the answer appears to be yes.
In California, a criminal street gang is defined as any organization, association or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, which (1) has continuity of purpose, (2) seeks a group identity, and (3) has members who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.
The Bloods, the Crips… and OWS? Why discriminate? Are the OWS “gangsters” off limits because they’re mostly white and have an alleged political purpose? Should they be left alone because they are, in the eyes of some politicians, champions of free speech? Tell that to the thousands of victims of their recent three-month crime wave. Tell that to the 99 percenters who are now paying the clean-up tab for the gigantic mess OWS members left behind.
They’ve had their fun. They’ve left their mark, but they’re not done yet. The choice is simple: react to the next wave of “protests” and suffer the damages, or preempt the problem with a “gang injunction”. The process is not easy and not cheap, but anecdotal evidence suggests the savings to taxpayers would be enormous. The only remaining question is whether those who we elect to serve us have the political courage to take this bold step.